Highlands Fire & Rescue received a call on Tuesday shortly after 5:30 p.m. reporting two climbers possibly trapped on a rope on the east face of Whiteside Mountain.
Pictured below is a welfare check for two climbers on the east face of Whiteside Mountain involving Highlands Fire & Rescue, Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office:
HFR Rescue Captain Eric Pierson said after making visual and verbal contact with the climbers, it was confirmed they were not in danger. However, making that confirmation took some effort.
Rescue crews from HFR, Glenville/Cashiers Rescue Squad, and Jackson County Sherriff’s Office headed up the mountain to determine the climbers’ status.
After locating the climber’s ropes and anchors, GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman rappelled down the sheer cliff face to try and make contact with the climbers, who could be anywhere between the top of the ridge and 800 feet down to the bottom of the cliff.
Crews used a drone to make visual contact with the climbers along the vast swath of sheer-vertical rock that makes up the east face, and then made verbal contact to confirm their safety.
“We used a drone to get a visual on the situation and figure out if they were in distress or not,” said Pierson. “Once they ascended a bit up the rope and we established verbal contact they informed us they were ok.”
GCRS Captain Chip Sherrill said crews were short on manpower on Tuesday evening because of three emergency calls at once.
“We had three calls within 5 minutes so we were spread pretty thin in terms of manpower,” said Sherrill. “But Matt went down and they told us they were good to go and no one got hurt, so it went well.”
The two other calls included a couple of hikers who needed help hiking in Panthertown Valley due to exhaustion and a report of a woman getting separated from her group along the Chattooga River Trail. Sherill said all hikers were successfully located by rescue crews and there were no reported injuries as of Tuesday evening.
Pictured at the top of the article is GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman making contact with two climbers to confirm their safety. Chrestman is pictured at the top of the cliff wearing a blue jacket and white helmet.